Finding Fruit

Finding Fruit in Philippians

an SK Bible Study


Week 6: Keep Going and Don’t Look Back!

Philippians 3:12-4:1 (NIV)
(12) Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (13) Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(15) All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (16) Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
(17) Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. (18) For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. (19) Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. (20) But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (1) Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love nd long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!


Genesis 19 tells us the story of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, his wife and two daughters lived in Sodom. God was preparing to destroy these two cities but first gave opportunity to Lot and his family to flee the city:

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished…As soon as they [angels] had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives!” Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” (Genesis 19:16, 17a)

The story goes on to say that, as they reached the town of Zoar, “the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah” (vs.24). When they entered the town, “Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt”(vs. 26).

I have always wondered about the demise of Lot’s wife. Why did she die? The Matthew Henry Commentary offers five theories:

  1. She disobeyed an express command, sinning just like Adam did
  2. Unbelief was at the bottom of it; she questioned whether Sodom would be destroyed, and thought she might still have been safe in it.
  3. She looked back on her neighbors whom she had left behind with more concern than was appropriate.
  4. She was probably sad to leave her house and possessions; she cared too much about her ‘stuff’.
  5. By looking back, she showed an inclination to want to return “and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostasy from our Christian profession. We have all renounced the world and the flesh, and have set our faces heaven-ward; we are in the plain, upon our probation; and it is at our peril if we return into the interests we profess to have abandoned.”

We will probably never know if all of these were reasons why Lot’s wife died, but one thing we can do is learn from her mistake. Paul is telling us in this letter to the church at Philippi to “move on toward the goal to win the prize.” (vs. 14, NIrV).

Why do we sometimes dwell, in an unhealthy way, on past experiences, thoughts, and actions of our old life?

  • Is it because we see no real harm in it (so we just disobey the command)?
  • Is it because we still have a hard time believing God’s promise that there is something better in the future?
  • Is it because we don’t want to risk losing the friendships we have had with our neighbors and friends before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior?
  • Is it because, deep down, we still care about earthly possessions – our “stuff”?
  • Is it because we are tempted by Satan to think that our old life was more ‘fun’ than our new life in Christ?
  • Paul challenges us, by his words and his life example, to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead” (vs.13b). He goes back to the thoughts that he shared with the Philippians in the beginning of his letter (chapter 1). In that chapter, we studied about what our perspective on this life and the afterlife should be (Week 2).

    He also reminds us, once again, of the difference between living for immediate pleasure versus living for heavenly pleasure. Those living for immediate pleasure are ones whose “…stomach is their god. They brag about what they should be ashamed of. They think only about earthly things” (vs. 19, NIrV) However, those living in faith, for heavenly pleasures, “are citizens of heaven. And we can hardly wait for a Savior from there. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. He has the power to bring everything under his control. By his power he will change our earthly bodies. They will become like his glorious body.” (vs. 20-21, NIrV)

    Be encouraged, friend. Keep going and don’t look back. Remember that we are just passing through this life in order to arrive at our destination!


    ————————————————————————–

    DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
    (When answering, please be sure to first put the number of the question in your comment.)

    1. Why do we sometimes dwell, in an unhealthy way, on past experiences, thoughts, and actions of our old life? (Do any of the bulleted questions above ‘hit home’ for you?)
    2. If you had to leave your home immediately, and you knew that all your worldly possessions would be destroyed, what thing would be the hardest to leave behind? Take a moment to really think about it.
    3. How is the fruit of self-control being revealed in this passage?

    ————————————————————————–

    Remember to pray for the things that are listed on our Prayer page.

    ‘See ya’ next week!

    7 Responses to “Wk.6: Keep Going and Don’t Look Back!”

    1. Shalyn Zak Says:

      I love these verses. Several things ran through my head as I read them.
      1. Old habits die hard is a common saying for a reason. It takes time to change and we humans are not the most patience creatures. I’m sure at one time or another I can answer yes to all of those bulleted questions. Some of those I am going to have to really think about and pray about.
      2. Well, as I look around my home that God blessed us with, I can’t really come up with anything. The scenero I am imagining is a fire in my home what would I want to grab. All I keep thinking is my kids, assuming that my husband can get out on his own, I could not leave without them but the stuff could go. I may come up with something later but for now all I can think is my family.
      3. I love God’s timing. By no coincedence, I’m sure, this weeks study is excatly what God has been speaking to me. I just hadn’t put the words “fruit of self-control” to what I am trying to change about myself. Some situations lately have not gone all that well and my self-control does play into it whether I like it or not. This passage points out that yeah you could do what you want and no one (God or Satan)is going to stop you but there is a price to pay for the way you live. This passage is filled with good advice about self-control.
      I do think this passage is filled with encouragement as well. I felt empowered by Jesus to keep running the race dispite the potholes. He is always running with us.

    2. intensesimplicity Says:

      1. There is a holacoust memorial in down town Baltimore with the caption “Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.” I wonder what the literal translation of the word “forget” from the original language this passage in Philipians was written. It wouldn’t surprise me if it meant to “set aside.” Even though it may not be possible to forget, I can certainly see how God would not want us to let our past errors keep us from moving forward and using those experiences to show compassion and understanding towards others. But “dwelling in an unhealthy way”? This sounds like beating yourself up. It also sounds like perhaps there’s some unresolved issues that need to be faced. Maybe there is some unrest, unforgiveness, or unrestitution. Why do we dwell like that? Because the devil seeks to devour…Because we are vulnerable human beings that need to be unified with and not judged by the body of believers…because we need to confess to one another so that we can pray for one another and be healed. We find it hard to believe that confession will result in forgiveness, prayer and healing, but rather condemnation and rejection.

    3. Carol Foote Says:

      1. The older I get, the easier it is to let the past stay there and focus on the future. However, I find that things from the past will come to mind to remind me how to do the “right” thing now and to humble me and thank God for the changes that have occurred in my life.
      2. Since there are only two of us at home, once I knew my husband was safe I can’t think of anything I would have a hard time leaving behind, but I imagine I would grab my purse.
      3. It seems to me that Paul is exercising self-control by keeping his focus on God and what lies ahead.

    4. Bev Says:

      Wow—I love people’s thoughts on this week’s study.
      1. I think that the reason we often dwell on things in the past is because we have a hard time really believing that God is not like us—he really does forgive and forget, whereas we tend to “beat ourselves up” as someone else said. I have come to realize recently that ruminating on my failings and mistakes really demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s promise of forgiveness, so it is something I am working on and praying about.
      2. I think I would want to grab all my scrapbooks, not only because they represent so much time investment, but they also hold so many memories that I hold precious. Is that a bad holding on to the past?? I hope not, but sometimes I think it fosters regret that my children are grown, that our family is changing, etc. instead of living in the moment and rejoicing in the blessings of today. But, it also fosters a real sense of gratitude for all of the Lord’s blessings.

    5. Lynda Says:

      1. I think Satan wants us to forget that Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins. They have been wiped away. I also think we think an old habit won’t hurt us if we don’t do it as much. Unfortunately that is not the case. Why is it so hard to give up the ‘bad’ habits and change to better habits?
      2. I would grab my doll Favorite. I received her when I was a day old from my dad’s father (my grandpa). She was a peace offering. My dad’s parents didn’t approve of my parents’ marriage and were not at their wedding. She has been everywhere with me. It is a good thing she can not talk. She could never be replaced.
      3. Self – control this is a fruit I need to work on so this was a good passage for me. I forget to keep pressing on and settle for less instead. When I get discouraged I need to focus on God and put Him at the center of my quest.
      Thanks for the reminder.

    6. Rindy Says:

      1. Great thoughts–and yes, a couple hit home. I know that I held on to many past thoughts/habits, etc. because I never believed that God could really mean what he said. I had never truly experienced unconditional love or trusting with those close to me, so how could I ever trust or believe in one I had never seen. Once that happened, it was so much easier to understand God’s love and promise.

      The comment about losing friends also hits home. I actively pushed away some friends/family where unhealthy relationships or influences existed. Although difficult, that was necessary. However, what I didn’t expect was that as I truly moved forward, friends I thought I could count on did not want me to. In my changing (and becoming healthier and in much better places), our relationships changed. They didn’t like that and I have lost some very dear friends because of it…but I know it is where I need to be. Some friends are in our lives for only a season…and that is not easy. (yet, necessary)

      Also, I think we hold on because familiar is always easier than the unknown. Even if they are not good–they are known. Changing is risk and venturing out…status quo is easier.

      2. I’ve realized I really don’t need much ‘stuff’. obviously I would grab my guys…or at this point, they might be helping me…hmmm…at least I hope they would😉 I think I would want pictures/videos of the guys too (and my laptop so I could blog about it all…ok, just kidding on that one…sort of)

    7. Jaiva Says:

      This is just what I needed. I have a friend that is in a strong storm and keeps reflecting on the past and where he went wrong. I just want him to know its time to move on in Christ.
      Praise be to the lord for these scriptures and the words of the author who wrote this bible study.

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